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New Directions (#110 of 1)

Echoes from the Void José Revueltas’s The Hole

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Echoes from the Void: José Revueltas’s The Hole
Echoes from the Void: José Revueltas’s The Hole

In the visitors’ lobby of a Mexican prison, a mother secretly wishes death on her incarcerated son. He’s got a wish of his own: getting his hands on a feverishly anticipated bag of drugs. Smuggling the stuff past the prison guards—so-called “apes”—will no doubt prove difficult. But a plan has been worked out—and the mother has agreed to help. She remains, after all, bound to “this son who still clung to her entrails, where he watched her with his miscreant’s eye.”

We’re only a short way into this 1969 novella by José Revueltas, the Mexican writer and political activist. Entitled The Hole, it concerns three cellmates awaiting their next fix. The son, the most detested member of this trio, is dubbed the Prick, and the narrator hatefully insists that he’s indeed “a useless prick, blind in one eye, dragging himself around with the shakes and a lame leg.” Holed up alongside him is Albino, who throttles the Prick from time to time. Polonio is no less violent, and he intends to kill the Prick, but only after that bag of drugs is delivered to them.